Updated: Democrats Caucus In Washington, Alaska & Hawaii

UPDATE:

https://twitter.com/CNN/status/713837435310972928

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Three states will hold their presidential caucuses today – Washington, Alaska and Hawaii.

The caucus format has done very well for Sen. Bernie Sanders, so expectations are high that he could sweep all three contests. However, given that all delegates are awarded proportionally, I wouldn’t look for Sanders to close the delegate gap too much today, although I’m sure he will walk away with a net gain.

Clinton currently holds the lead in pledged delegates by about 303. Washington is the big prize today with 101 delegates; Alaska will award 16, and Hawaii 25.

In that these are caucuses, there has been little to no polling done for today.

Expectations are high in Hawaii for Sanders. One Clinton supporter told Politico regarding Clinton’s chances in Hawaii: “He’s going to crush us. He should win this thing 2-to-1 at least,” the aide said of Sanders prospects. “If we keep this below 65-35 I’d be shocked.”

Tuesday is Wisconsin’s turn to chime in on the presidential sweepstakes. The most recent poll shows former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton leading there by 6 points.

Then, after a couple of weeks off, the Dems return to the ballot box with contests in New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, California and New Jersey. Current polls show Clinton leading by sizeable numbers in all of those states.

But that can all change. We shall see.

Washington Florist Set To Receive Over $150K After Violating State Law

The Washington state florist who was found guilty of breaking state public accommodations laws stands to receive over $150,000 in donations from a GoFundMe campaign set up for her.

Barronelle Stutzman, a Christian florist, refused to sell flowers for a same-sex wedding. This constituted a violation of state law because sexual orientation is included in the state’s public accommodation laws.

The Washington State Attorney General and the same-sex couple sued Barronelle.

The court found her liable for violating the Washington Law Against Discrimination and ruled that both the state and the couple may collect damages and attorneys’ fees from Barronelle’s business and personal assets.

A friend then set up a crowd-sourcing campaign alleging Stutzman could “lose her business, her home, and her savings.”

In reality, she was fined a whopping $1,000.

The “friend” writes on the GoFundMe page:

The funds will be held until the legal challenge has been resolved and the full extent of the need is assessed. Funds may be used to help cover any outstanding legal fees and costs imposed from the opposition. Funds may also be used to help replace the assets taken as a result of the legal challenges brought against Barronelle. The total cost to Barronelle is unknown because the legal challenges are ongoing. In the event the funds provided by donors exceed Barronelle’s needs, the funds will be used to cover those same expenses for others who defend their constitutional right to live consistently with their faith.

Washington State Florist Fined $1,000 For Refusing Service To Gays

Baronelle Stutzman

Remember the florist in Washington state who refused to sell a gay couple flowers for their wedding?

Remember how the haters screamed that the gays were going to ruin the florist by taking her home and livelihood away?

Yeah. It ended up a whopping $1,001 fine.

From the AP:

Benton County Superior Judge Alexander Ekstrom’s ruling gives Barronelle Stutzman, owner of Arlene’s Flowers and Gifts in Richland, Washington, 60 days to pay the state for her refusal to serve Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed when they sought to buy wedding flowers in 2013.

Stutzman, who had sold flowers to Robert Ingersoll for years, knew he was gay and said when he sought to buy wedding flowers that the marriage went against her beliefs as a Southern Baptist. After they were refused flowers, Ingersoll and Freed went ahead with a smaller wedding than they had planned. They got married in their home with 11 guests and flowers from another florist.

In a February ruling, Ekstrom found that Stutzman’s refusal to provide flowers because of sexual orientation violated Washington’s anti-discrimination and consumer protection laws.

“My primary goal has always been to end illegal discrimination,” Attorney General Bob Ferguson said. “I’m pleased that today’s ruling clearly prohibits discrimination against same-sex couples.”

Washington: Florist Declines Offer To Settle LGBT Discrimination Lawsuit

Barronelle Stutzman, the Washington state florist who refused to provide flowers for a gay wedding, has declined to accept an offer from the Washington state attorney general to settle her discrimination case by paying a $2,000 fine and agreeing to sell bouquets for same-sex ceremonies in the future.

In a letter to the Attorney General Bob Ferguson, Stutzman wrote that gay couples are allowed to act on their views, but “because I follow the Bible’s teaching that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, I am no longer free to act on my beliefs.”

From the Washington Post:

Stutzman, 70, owner of Arlene’s Flowers in Richland, Washington, says she plans to appeal a judge’s ruling that she broke a state anti-discrimination law.

Benton County Superior Court Judge Alex Ekstrom on Wednesday rejected arguments that Stutzman’s actions were protected by her freedoms of speech and religion.

The First Amendment protects religious beliefs but not necessarily actions based on those beliefs, Ekstrom ruled. The state has the authority to prohibit discrimination, and Stutzman can be held personally liable for damages if she breaks bias laws, the judge said.

A gay couple and the state sued the florist, who could be required to pay damages and legal fees that far exceed the attorney general’s offer.

Ferguson said Thursday that his goal wasn’t Stutzman’s financial ruin. He offered to settle the case for $2,000 — the fine for violations of the law — and a $1 payment for legal fees if she would agree not to discriminate against same-sex couples.

“My primary goal has always been to bring about an end to the defendants’ unlawful conduct and to make clear that I will not tolerate discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation,” Ferguson said in a news release.

Stutzman becomes a national martyr in 3, 2, 1…

AFA Tries To Re-Frame Case Against Anti-Gay Washington State Florist

I received an email “alert” from the anti-gay American Family Association today extolling the woes of the Washington state florist (and grandmother!) who was found guilty of violating the state’s public accommodation laws.

Note how AFA puts their “spin” on things:

A state judge ruled this week that Washington floral artist and grandmother Barronelle Stutzman must provide full support for wedding ceremonies that are contrary to her faith.

The judge said the 70-year-old grandmother may lose not only her business, but also her home and savings because she lives her life and operates her business according to her beliefs.

Note again how they let you know she’s a grandmother – as if grandmother’s should get to break the law…

The state judge ruled Stutzman’s business could not discriminate against a specific group of people.

Stutzman isn’t in this predicament because she “operates her business according to her beliefs.” She VIOLATED a state law that protects citizens from discrimination. Period.

From the Huffington Post:

Benton County Superior Court Judge Alexander C. Ekstrom found that the florist violated consumer protections when she wouldn’t sell flowers for the same-sex wedding of a longtime customer because of her religious beliefs. The couple was protected by the Washington Law Against Discrimination, which prohibits bias based on sexual orientation, the court ruled.

Plus, the AFA exaggerates the fines Stutzman may be required to pay. According to the state attorney general’s office, she may be required to pay $2,000 per violation. Not exactly her entire “business, home and savings.”

The point of this post is to expose how these groups like to frame and exaggerate their arguments so they can pretend to be rational.

Washington Florist Found Guilty Of Discriminating In Public Accomodations Lawsuit

Washington state florist Arlene’s Flowers has been found guilty of discrimination according to the state’s public accommodation  and consumer protection laws.

From ABC News:

A florist in Washington state who refused to provide flowers to a gay couple for their wedding violated state consumer protection and anti-discrimination law, a judge ruled Wednesday.

Benton County Superior Court Judge Alex Ekstrom rejected arguments from the owner of Arlene’s Flowers in Richland that her actions were protected by her freedoms of speech and religion. While religious beliefs are protected by the First Amendment, actions based on those beliefs aren’t necessarily protected, he said.

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson and the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, which represented the couple, welcomed the ruling.

“The law is clear: If you choose to provide a service to couples of the opposite sex, you must provide the same service to same-sex couples,” Ferguson said.

The law allows for penalties of up to $2,000 per violation, as well as legal fees. The state will likely seek those against Stutzman individually as well as her business, said Peter Lavallee, a spokesman for the attorney general’s office.

BREAKING: Shooting At Washington State High School

According to the Seattle Times, the gunman appears to have shot himself to death after injuring several at Marysville-Pilchuck High School:

A gunman believed to have opened fire at Marysville-Pilchuck High School Friday morning is dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to two law-enforcement sources.

Police have not released details, but there are reports of as many as seven other people shot about 10:45 a.m.

Three of the injured were taken by ambulance to Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett, including one with a head wound.

Washington state House passes bill banning “gay conversion therapy”

Washington state’s House of Representatives has passed legislation that would ban ‘gay conversion therapy’ for minors by health care providers.

From the AP:

House Bill 2451, which passed on a 94-4 vote, would make it an act of unprofessional conduct to try to change the sexual orientation of a patient under 18.

That would include efforts to change behaviors, gender expressions or to reduce sexual or romantic attractions toward people of the same sex.

The lawmakers who opposed the measure were: Reps. Mark Hargrove, R-Covington; Brad Klippert, R-Kennewick; Jason Overstreet, R-Lynden; and Elizabeth Scott, R-Monroe.

Washington: GOP bill looks to circumvent non-discrimination law

Several Republican lawmakers filed a bill Thursday seeking an exemption to the state’s anti-discrimination laws just weeks after legal action was taken against a Richland, Wash., florist who denied service to a gay couple for their upcoming wedding.

The bill introduced by Sen. Sharon Brown (R-Kennewick), would allow businesses the right to deny services or goods if they felt doing so was contrary to their “sincerely held religious beliefs, philosophical beliefs, or matters of conscience.”

The measure would not apply to the denial of services to people under a protected class under federal law, such as race, religion or disability.

Brown said the measure seeks to protect people or religious organizations from legal persecution. “There’s a glaring lack of protection for religion in state law,” she said.

The bill has not yet been referred to a committee or scheduled for a public hearing, and is not likely to before the regular legislative session ends on Sunday.

Earlier this month, the American Civil Liberties Union in Washington state filed a lawsuit in response to a March 1 incident in which Barronelle Stutzman refused to provide flowers for Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed’s wedding, despite the two men being longtime patrons of her shop – Arlene’s Flowers and Gifts in Richland, which is in Brown’s legislative district.

Protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation were codified in 2006.  Under state law, it’s illegal for businesses to refuse to sell goods, merchandise and services to any person because of their sexual orientation.

Josh Friedes, a spokesman for Equal Rights Washington, said that the bill seeks to undermine the state’s anti-discrimination laws “and it undermines our entire approach to ensuring the equality of all Washingtonians in commerce.”

“It is discrimination, pure and simple,” he said.

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